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Author Topic: Trial of peat-free composts  (Read 11918 times)

Maggi Young

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Trial of peat-free composts
« on: January 27, 2017, 03:01:41 PM »
I thought this  report of her trial of peat free composts, written by Beth Otway on her blog, might be of interest.
 
http://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2017/01/peat-free-compost-trial-2016/

The trail uses vegetables as the subject but  results are nonetheless  of interest I hope.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Graeme

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2017, 06:22:12 PM »
I thought this  report of her trial of peat free composts, written by Beth Otway on her blog, might be of interest.
 
http://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2017/01/peat-free-compost-trial-2016/

The trail uses vegetables as the subject but  results are nonetheless  of interest I hope.
Results are fine if you are an amateur and sowing in spring - problems start when you are a commercial grower and you need to get things to germinate and grow in the depths of winter
https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/peat-compost-peat-free-soil-gardening/#
Had a very nasty experience with some peat free rubbish a few years ago and lost a huge amount of orchids - I had it tested and it had residual herbicide in it probably from the green waste.  And some really nice pieces of glass
So when I buy compost in I always look at the peat content - and I always test a bag
I am yet to be convinced   
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Hannelore

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2017, 07:25:45 PM »
During the first years of the century the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, the German university specialising in green engineering courses, made experiences with peat-free substrates using minced wood instead. They found out that the addition of elemental sulfur  makes them very good for plants that need acidic soil as do most flowers. Fine Sulphur powder ("Schwefelblüte") is not soluble in water, only soil bacteria can convert it to soluble derivatives, which can then be used by plants. These bacteria work only in the ph-region which is good for the plants, they stop when the pH-value becomes lesser. This makes elementary sulphur a very efficient additiv (and cheap too). The amount tested by the Weihenstephan scientists for petunias was 2,6g per liter. Elementary sulphur is also allowed in organic production of nutrition plants.
Unfortunately the report about this project is no longer availiable, but it was in German anyway. Who unterstands this language can drop me a note with an email address and I'll send a PDF-copy.

BTW Sulfur improves the efficiency of other essential plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus (Wikipedia).

Hannelore
« Last Edit: January 27, 2017, 07:28:16 PM by Hannelore »

Dave M

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2017, 08:56:22 PM »
I can vouch for the Sylvagrow products, they are superb and a long way off the stereotypical peatfree mixes of the past or cheap green waste based variants available. I grow everything not in the ground in a mix of their products. Most alpine mixes are made up of the commercial variant of the one on test with added JI and I grow a large range of carnivorous plants in their composted pine bark products. There is no excuses in amateur horticulture to be ripping up peat when even the most challenging plants can be grown peat free. Viable alternatives do exist, they just need finding out and an open mind to make a change. The alternative is utterly depressing, seeing rare and fragile habitats eroded in order to allow folks to buy 3 bags for a tenner at their local supermarket or garden centre.
Dave Morris, Lune Valley nr. Lancaster UK

Growild

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2017, 12:15:59 PM »
Completely agree with Dave M - there really is no excuse these days to be using peat and there are products out there not just dodgy B&Q peat free (with added glass). Have heard good things about Sylvagrow products but can't use it because of the wool content (being a vegan). I can recommend New Horizon organic Peat free which we use for most of our potted plants.


Maggi Young

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2017, 03:18:47 PM »
A National Collection holder of Galanthus - Margaret MacLennan - is trialling a peat free compost  on some snowdrops - read more here  - from the manufacturer - http://www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk/latest-news/news/2017/1/national-snowdrop-collection-trialling-dalefoot-composts.aspx
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ian mcdonald

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2017, 11:01:40 AM »
I wonder how gardeners ever managed to grow plants before peat was introduced to composts.

Maggi Young

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 04:57:33 PM »
Something new  from supplier  of  wool compost ...
http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=16839.msg405318#msg405318
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Maggi Young

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2019, 01:25:49 PM »
A National Collection holder of Galanthus - Margaret MacLennan - is trialling a peat free compost  on some snowdrops - read more here  - from the manufacturer - http://www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk/latest-news/news/2017/1/national-snowdrop-collection-trialling-dalefoot-composts.aspx

A reply from Dalefoot  about  my  question as to the  progress of the  McLennan's  trial of the  compost  for their  snowdrops :

Good Morning Maggi,

Thank you ever so much for your swift reply. Great news to hear you’ve heard of us and we are somewhat on your radar!

I rang and spoke with David McLennan yesterday for their feedback to date as its been a 2-3 year trial now. He advised they began the trial with the more commercial John Innes compost Vs Dalefoot Wool Compost & Lakeland Gold. The kept the same variables to ensure a true comparison. The outcome is that Dalefoot has produced bigger bulbs, bigger, stronger and healthier plants and that with our compost they didn’t need to feed for the whole of the three years. We advise a no need to feed for 12 – 24 months depending on product and the plants going in it, so for them to not feed for 3 years is amazing. With this a much more natural crop is produced. They are now looking at using our products elsewhere in their garden. David also gave this feedback at an Alpine conference in February when the topic was Peat Free and is happy for me to share it with you as they are members of your society.

In regards to our Alpine mix we started this for Plants with Altitude. It was a collaboration between Neil and ourselves and since other people take it such as Kevock when we have made a batch as it’s not a standard product more of a special mix.

We have just placed a bulk order for the grit etc and will be making a batch up in the next few weeks should that be of interest.

If you have any other questions at all please do not hesitate in letting me know.

Many Thanks,
Shona
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Maggi Young

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2019, 05:20:33 PM »
For those  people  interested  in  learning where they can source  plants grown in peat=free compost, there  is  a  list here :
https://dogwooddays.net/2019/09/18/save-our-rainforests-the-peat-free-nurseries-list

- there  are  a good  number  of  amiliar  places listed there - it's not  an exhaustive  list, so do get  in touch with Nic Wilson at  "Dogwooddays" to let  her  know  of  any  missed out.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Michelle Swann

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2020, 07:41:25 AM »
Hi Maggie,

This was a really interesting article.  I wish they would do a trial using alpine plants to find the best alternative to peat compost.  I always used to used peat free regardless of the plant performance, but alpines really don't seem to be a fan, so I have swallowed the love of my peat bogs for the love of my alpine plants.

Michelle xx.

Graeme

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2020, 01:46:33 PM »
As someone who has been subjected to a very badly cut finger from a sizable piece of glass in a peat free compost - thanks LeXXXXtons - having complained all I got was an e-mail to say our screening process was broken, so we just stuffed anything in the bag, here have a £30 voucher.
I have seen telephone wire - pieces of plastic - cable tie bits - glass chunks that look like they have come from a broken windscreen - half a log - fresh twigs - stuff that looks like brown wool/wood pulp, etc. etc.
I also lost a lot of plants a few years back when the batch of compost I had bought had a very nasty residual commercial weed killer in it
Luckily my brother is an industrial chemist with access to state of the art testing facilities - looks like they had put in composted grass cuttings or other rubbish that was contaminated
So if you were a grower who bought a bag from a supplier and your plants died you would think it was you - I had a pallet load, and we tested a couple of bags, and they were all contaminated
I contacted the manufacturer who at first said it was rubbish - until I provided them with the chemical analysis - then they said I had contaminated the bags - I confirmed I did not hold a licence for the chemical and therefore could not buy it - then when I threatened them with legal action they compensated me and sent a lorry to recover the pallet of compost.
(I presume the rest of that batch of compost would also have been contaminated)
So give me peat compost any day - I now order directly from the producer in Ireland
If you are happy to put up with substandard rubbish which seems to have no quality or quality control then you are welcome to it   
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David Nicholson

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2020, 08:59:44 AM »

If you are happy to put up with substandard rubbish which seems to have no quality or quality control then you are welcome to it

Hear, Hear. The quality of most peat-free composts is abysmal.
David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b
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Maggi Young

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2020, 12:00:54 PM »
By  coincidence,  a  request  has just  been received  to invite  participation in a  survey  on  growing  media - see  all details  here:
   https://www.srgc.org.uk/forum/index.php?topic=18019.0
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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TC

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2020, 12:55:48 PM »
I think that like everyone, I decided to give up on peat composts " to save the planet".  I tried just about every make I could get my hands on. Strangely enough, I initially found Aldis and Lidls to be the best with very little"extras" in the way of wire or bits of logs.  However, I only used it in the garden, digging it in to improve texture for rhododendrons. A year later I started to get a crop of large fungus which I could not identify.  These I dug out and dumped.  They have not reappeared and plants in the same area seem to be quite happy.

I tried a bag of the wool compost, which was expensive but seemed to work OK for pots. For a peat-free compost I use various grades of Melcourt composted bark.  I never use it straight from the bag but mix it with some peat, sharp sand and 3mm grit.   I don't have a formula but play about with the amounts depending on what I am planting and it seems to work OK.  At least the plants are still alive.
Tom Cameron
Ayr, West of Scotland

 


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